- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

HONOLULU (AP) — A strong earthquake shook Hawaii early yesterday, causing a landslide that blocked a major highway and triggering power outages across much of the island, authorities said.

The state Civil Defense had unconfirmed reports of injuries, but communication problems prevented more definite reports. Gov. Linda Lingle issued a disaster declaration for the entire state, saying there had been damage to buildings and roads. There were no reports of fatalities.

The quake hit at 7:07 a.m. local time, 10 miles north-northwest of Kailua Kona, a town on the west coast of the island, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center, part of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Mr. Blakeman said there was no risk of a Pacific-wide tsunami, but there was a possibility of significant wave activity in Hawaii.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, and the U.S. Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.6. There were several strong aftershocks, including one of magnitude 5.8, the geological survey said.

“We were rocking and rolling,” said Anne LaVasseur, who was on the second floor of a two-story, wood-framed house on the east side of the main island when the temblor struck. “I was pretty scared. We were swaying back and forth, like King Kong’s pushing your house back and forth.”

Water pipes exploded at Aston Kona by the Sea, an 86-unit condominium resort, creating a dramatic waterfall down the front of the hotel from the fourth floor, said Kenneth Piper, who runs the front desk. He added that the building “really shook.”

The quake caused widespread power outages, and phone communication was possible but difficult. By midday yesterday, power was restored to the city of Hilo and was being restored to the island of Maui, said Charles Anthony, a spokesman for the Hawaii National Guard. Officials did not have a firm estimate of how many people were without power.

Mrs. Lingle told radio station KSSK that she toured the Kona area by helicopter to view the damage, including earth falling into Kealakekua Bay. “You could see the water was turning brown,” she said.

In Waikiki on the nearby island of Oahu, one of the state’s primary tourism areas, worried visitors began lining up outside convenience stores to purchase food, water and other supplies. Managers were letting tourists into the darkened stores one at a time.

On the island of Hawaii, there was some damage in Kailua-Kona and a landslide along a major highway, said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Kona Community Hospital on the western side of the main island was being evacuated after ceilings collapsed and power was cut off, a hospital spokeswoman said.

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